US defence secretary remains in hospital with prostate cancer


US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin is still in hospital and is in a good condition, the Pentagon has said.

The 70-year-old was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland on 22 December with prostate cancer.

He returned to the hospital on 1 January due to complications including a urinary tract infection and has remained there ever since.

Pentagon press secretary Major General Pat Ryder said in a statement: “He’s in contact with his senior staff and has full access to required secure communications capabilities and continues to monitor DOD’s day-to-day operations worldwide.”

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Last week it was revealed President Joe Biden and senior leaders in his administration were unaware that Mr Austin had been in hospital.

The Pentagon did not inform the White House National Security Council or top adviser Jake Sullivan of Mr Austin’s hospital admission until Thursday 4 January.

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Mr Biden was only informed that evening.

The defence secretary sits just below the president at the top of the chain of command of the US military and his duties require him to be available at a moment’s notice to respond to any manner of national security crises.

It comes as the US launched airstrikes over two consecutive nights on Houthi-linked targets in Yemen.

Dozens of sites were targeted in retaliation against the Iran-backed forces for months of attacks on Red Sea shipping.

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